Does Giving Free Samples Increase Sales?

The food industry offers the most free samples of all markets. Whether it’s a tray of teriyaki chicken at the counter of a mall food court, or a cheese shop offering unlimited tastes, we’ve all taken a free bite and wanted more. Though this strategy is most commonly practiced in food courts and specialty shops, it shouldn’t end there.

We share our insights into how efficient free samples can prove to be. Also, how you can offer free samples that leave an impression on your guests.

Marketing guide for restaurants

In addition to samples, find out other effective tactics you can use to market your restaurant—from social media to discount websites.


Does free sampling increase sales?

Free samples may not be the most effective business strategy in the short-term. It’s hard to find someone who has enough money to offer free samples. Offering free samples is a tactic used by independently owned specialty shops and wholesale giants like Costco that’s proven to increase conversions.

Everyone loves free food, but there’s a scientific reason behind offering free samples to your guests.

“What samples do is they give you a particular desire for something,” Dan Ariely, behavioral economist at Duke University, Tells Atlantic. “If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”

Free samples have been a huge success for snack food businesses. Snack Factory is a manufacturer of Pretzel Crisps. They started off by providing free samples for its flat pretzel cracker. Perry Abbenante (Vice President Marketing at Snack Factory), said that the company’s flat pretzel cracker was a free sample. It was a conversion rate. Between 25-30%,That means at least 25% of the people who got a free product sample actually bought it.

“Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something for you, you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them,” says Ariely.

This psychology behind free products isn’t exclusive to snack foods or samples at a wholesaler. Free samples of new products, or the opportunity to taste your latest special cocktail can be key to building long-lasting relationships that keep customers returning.

You can track the free samples that guests receive in your restaurant POS system, you will easily be able to see exactly what you’re giving away and compare it to your overall sales each day. You will be able to see the effect of your sample programs on your sales, and what you can do to make them more effective for you.


Free samples are a great way to get your hands on some good stuff.

The gift of free samples is a great way to start a mutually beneficial and beautiful relationship.

Your customers will be more comfortable with free samples if you include them in your business strategy. This can help you to become a loyal customer. These are just a few of the many benefits that free samples can bring to you and your customers.

  • Present your product or service to people who are unfamiliar with you business
  • Encourage and foster relationships inspire loyaltyWith existing customers
  • Expand guests’ knowledge about the products you offer
  • Increase repeat sales and customer loyalty by promoting new menu items.
  • Your brand will be promoted leading up the event


Statistical data on product sampling 

Customer tastings are an integral part of the wine and beer industry. They offer free samples or very low-cost products to customers before they buy a bottle.Is this a strategy that will entice customers to buy? 

Study: Cornell University.Assistant professor Miguel Gomez, Tastings can make a customer happy. HighlySatisfied customer. The difference here, according to the study, is “she (or he) is likely to spend an additional $10 buying an extra bottle of wine (with a probability of 93 percent), and to re-purchase wine in the future (92 percent probability).”

Free drink samples in wine glass

Cornell University conducted a study on 12 wineries within the Finger Lakes area of New York. While wineries don’t all experience the same results in the end, it was found that customers are drawn to tastings and build brand loyalty.

The study found that there are four components to customer satisfaction in breweries or wineries. These can also be applied to your bar and restaurant tastings.

  1. Provide great service: This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember that freebie customers are just as important as paying customers and might require even more attention in order to create a lasting impression.
  2. You can create a positive atmosphere. You can create a tasting space if you have enough space. This is great for hosting all kinds of tasting events. The tasting can be done at tables or at bars. Ensure that you check in with customers throughout to get feedback and questions.
  3. Enjoy the taste of your favorite dish. Sharing the chef’s inspiration for the newest dish or the bartender’s background on how a recipe came to fruition is likely to stick in your customers’ minds, rather than simply dropping off the food or drink and walking away.
  4. Make a plan: Visitors should agree on the taste standards before the event begins to ensure that there are no surprises and to provide an enjoyable experience.


How to include free samples in your business plan

Tastings aren’t just for breweries and wineries. Here are some ways to get free samples for your business.

  • Your grand opening at a restaurant or new place is an opportunity for you to highlight your most memorable hits.
  • Customers can gain a unique perspective by participating in special events held at their restaurant. Your customers won’t get bored of your restaurant if you offer a wide variety of dining experiences. You can make your restaurant the go-to place for special, unique events by offering free sample specials that are only available during certain times.
  • Profit from your Restaurant loyalty programGet in touch with your loyal customers to offer them free food and drinks.
  • Thinking about introducing a new menu item or drink recipe, but want to make sure it’ll go over well with your customer base? Customers can try the food and drink while they peruse the menu. This will give them an indication of whether it is a seasonal or permanent menu item.

Planning is key to any one of these free sampling strategies being successful. Start thinking about how fitting free samples into your restaurant marketing plan will work for your business and don’t forget to spread the news on social media.

Do you want to expand your sales or grow your customer base. Ask one of our expertsContact us today for more information about Small Biz Sense.

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.